History & background | Best private schools Northern Beaches

History and background to John Colet School, Northern Beaches, Sydney


John Colet School is a multi-faith co-educational infants and primary school which was founded in 1985, in a terrace house in North Sydney, by men and women studying together at the School of Practical Philosophy in Sydney.  The School of Practical Philosophy remains the parent body of John Colet. 

Since then the demand for places has grown and the school has expanded and moved to a more spacious site, in the peaceful bushland setting of Belrose. The school has now commenced a five-stage program for the further development of facilities.

Traditional values and imaginative approach

The school has a strong basis of traditional values, systematic teaching and common-sense discipline. This is combined with an imaginative approach by committed, enthusiastic teachers. The result is an innovative and enjoyable syllabus presented in a stimulating and loving atmosphere.

Who was John Colet?

Born in 1467 and educated at Oxford, John Colet was an important scholar in the Renaissance and a friend of such major figures as Sir Thomas Moore, Erasmus and Marsilio Ficino. He was a priest, whose Oxford lectures on St Paul's Epistles were based on such a simple and compassionate reading of the text that they became justly famous. As Dean of St Paul's Cathedral, he used his own wealth to found St Paul's School in London, which broke new ground in education and was the foundation of the English education system for the next four hundred years. For his piety, simplicity of life and intellectual and moral courage, John Colet was chosen as the patron of our school.

Who was Leon MacLaren? 

Leon MacLaren (1910 - 1994) founded the School of Economic Science in London in the 1930s to discover how men and women could relate to each other in society to create prosperity, peace and harmony.  He discovered that this enquiry needed to go deeper into human nature and hence he started studying great philosophical questions such as 'Who am I' and 'What is my purpose'?

As the SES grew, it expanded around the world, including to Sydney in 1967, by which time most of these offshoots were called Schools of Philosophy.  This enquiry also expanded into areas of specialist study such as Music, Art, Architecture, Economics and Education.  Out of this sprang the day school movement which now has over a dozen schools around the world with about 2,000 children.